May, John (d.1598) (DNB00)

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MAY, JOHN (d. 1598), bishop of Carlisle, a native of Suffolk, and brother of William May [q. v.], archbishop-elect of York, was matriculated as a pensioner of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 2 May 1544. He was appointed bible-clerk of his college, and in 1549-50 proceeded B.A., being elected fellow in 1550. He commenced M. A. in 1553, and acted as bursar of the college during 1553, 1554, and 1555. At midsummer 1557 he was ordained priest, and on 16 Nov. following he was instituted to the rectory of Aston Sandford, Buckinghamshire, on the presentation of Anne, countess of Oxford, which benefice he resigned in 1558 (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 47). In 1559 he was elected to the mastership of Catharine Hall. In 1560 he commenced B.D., and was collated to the rectory of Long Stanton St. Michael, Cambridgeshire. In 1562 Archbishop Parker collated him by lapse to the rectory of North Creake, Norfolk; and he held likewise the moiety of the rectory of Darfield, Yorkshire. About 1564 he obtained a canonry of Ely, which he held until May 1582 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 361). In 1564 he was created D.D. In 1565 he was nominated one of the Lent preachers at court. On 26 Sept. in that year he was collated by Archbishop Parker to the rectory of St. Dunstan-in-the East, London, which he vacated in January 1573-4. He was admitted to the archdeaconry of the East Riding of Yorkshire by proxy on 3 Aug. 1569, in person on 8 Oct. 1571, and retained it until the end of 1588. He served the office of vice-chancellor of the university for the year commencing November 1569, and was in a commission to visit King's College, Cambridge, which had been thrown into a state of confusion by the conduct of Dr. Philip Baker [q. v.], the provost. Through the influence of the Earl of Shrewsbury, May was raised to the see of Carlisle, being consecrated on 29 Sept. 1577. He obtained the queen's license to hold his other preferments in commendam. His name occurs in a commission issued on 14 May 1578 for the visitation of the church of Durham. From his correspondence with George Talbot, sixth earl Shrewsbury, he appears to have taken a warm interest in Scottish affairs. In a letter to the earl, dated from the episcopal seat, Rose Castle, Cumberland, 3 Dec. 1578, he requests him to write to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester [q. v.] to back his suit to the queen for the remission of his first-fruits, having been put to excessive charges the last year by hospitality and relieving of the poor in the time of a great dearth in his country. He protested that when his year's account was made at Michaelmas preceding his expenses surmounted the year's revenues of his bishopric, 600l., and he concluded by begging to be excused from attending parliament on account of his poverty. In another letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, dated 22 July 1587, he writes that he is in debt and danger by reason of the intolerable dearth for want of corn in his country, and on account of process against him out of the exchequer for non-payment of 146l. due to the queen for subsidy. On 15 Feb. 1592-3 the queen presented William Holland to the rectory of North Creake, which May still held. Thence arose a suit in the queen's bench, wherein it was held that the rectory might be treated as void by reason of May having been subsequently inducted to Darfield.

May died at Rose Castle on 15 Feb. 1597-8, being about seventy years of age. He was buried at Carlisle, according to the parish register of Dalston, Cumberland, a few hours after his death, which was probably caused by the plague. His wife was Amy, daughter of William Vowel of Creake Abbey, Norfolk, and widow of John Cowel of Lancashire. By her he had issue: John of Shouldham, Norfolk, who married Cordelia, daughter of Martin Bowes of Norfolk; Elizabeth, wife of Richard Bird, D.D.; Alice, wife of Richard Burton of Burton, Yorkshire; and Anne, wife of Richard Pilkington, D.D., rector of Hambleden, Buckinghamshire.

May wrote some plays, now lost, which were acted by the members of Queens' College in 1551 and 1553. He was concerned in the compilation of the statutes given to the university by Elizabeth in 1570. Among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library are some notes of a sermon which he preached at Paul's Cross the Sunday after St. Bartholomew's day, 1565 (Hackman, Cat. of Tanner MSS. p. 1022).

[Cooper's Athenae Cantabr. ii. 233-4, 549.]

G. G.